THE BLOG
09/16/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Why Does Tiger Woods Need a Coach?

Because, even though he is the best golfer in the world, he cannot see his own swing. He needs coaches because he wants to remain a champion, even after a knee operation. He is a natural athlete, but has had coaching and mentoring since he was five. No champion reaches the top, even with a natural gift, without coaching and mentoring. If you don't have coaches and mentors, you will never unleash your true genius.

This seems obvious if you observe sports or the arts. There are no championship teams that reach the top without lots of coaching. Yet how many of us have coaches committed to our success? My guess is very few. I started out in life as the child of an immigrant attacked by my peers for being different, displaying learning disabilities and needing a coach to get through high school. Today I am an author, coach to Fortune 500 CEOs and leaders in all walks of life. Every step of the way I had a coach or, better said, many coaches, who cared enough about me to confront my ego and unleash my genius from the bonds of "needing to be right." I can remember when Larry Senn, the Founder and CEO of the leadership consulting firm I wanted to be partner in, said to the whole team,

"When Paul came to us he was a diamond in the very rough. He needed a lot of work. But because he is always open to coaching and feedback, I know that there is nothing I cannot teach him."

Even with this praise, my ego was saying that I was not that bad. I nearly got defensive in the face of a great complement. Our egos want to protect us even if who we are could be much better. I still seek coaching and mentoring, because like Tiger Woods, I want to stay on top of my game.

Ask yourself how many times you have felt the need to be right overwhelming your reason; if you are human it has been often. Our ego's function is to protect us from danger. Being right over the centuries has been important to human survival. It keeps us safe both physically and psychologically, but limits our growth. They don't pay Tiger Woods to be right. They pay him to win. Sometimes, even with a coach, we would rather be right than win. The feeling of fear from our ego's natural defense mechanism scars us, and we settle for the status quo. In a world where everything is expanding, new records are being set everyday and the economic rules are changing, remaining the same is going backwards. Bob Dylan said, "He who is not busy being born, is busy dying." If Tiger Woods settles for being not as good because of his knee injury, he will fade as other golfers pass him. But I am sure he will not settle.

Everyone, even the greatest saints, have an ego. The question we have to ask ourselves in each moment is, "Are our egos riding us, or are we riding our egos?" Most often, since there are few champions in the world, the fears from our egos are riding us. I have many coaches and mentors, and it is still hard to admit I am wrong, even when results seem to indicate that I am. I have learned to seek out coaching and mentoring even though the fears from my ego rage. Each release, as I transcend my fears, brings a more joyous and productive life. I have even learned to notice when my words or actions are going "clunk" so I can coach myself.

If you want to achieve the dreams that are whispering to you behind your fears, surround yourself with people who have the courage to coach you and always reach beyond your fear. You can't do it alone -- no one does.